Could Chuba Hubbard be the Feature Back of the Future? A 2020 NFL Draft Prospect Profile
Image Credit: David Flowers/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Chuba Hubbard.

Chuba Hubbard has quickly become a household name in college football, but the jury is still out on when he’ll head to the NFL. Regardless, we’ll get to see Hubbard in at least one more college game before he makes his draft decision. Hubbard and Oklahoma State face off with Texas A&M this week in the Texas Bowl. But for now, let’s take a look back at his incredible ride up to this point.

From the Beginning

Although he does boast elite track speed, Hubbard didn’t come from South Florida or California. He played his high school football way up north, near Edmonton, Alberta. And that’s likely why he may have been a bit overlooked as a recruit. Hubbard was just a three-star recruit and the No. 23 running back in the 2017 class according to the 247Sports Composite ranking.

However, when you look at his high school production, that seems like a major mistake. Hubbard ran for nearly 7,000 yards and over 80 touchdowns on just 458 carries. Yes, you read that right, he averaged over 15 yards per carry in high school (thanks in part to his unfair speed). It’s no surprise that momentum carried over to college.

College Production

Rushing

SeasGamesRuAttRuYdsRuTDRuYPCRuAttAdjMSRuYdsAdjMSRuTDAdjMS
Career254332676286.180.550.610.64
20181312474075.970.310.350.35
2019123091936216.270.770.840.88

Receiving & Total Yardage

SeasGamesRecRecYdsRecTDTouchesTouchesAdjMSTotYdsTotTDTotYdsAdjMSTotTDAdjMS
Career254341224760.373088300.280.31
2018132222921460.2196990.160.17
2019122118303300.542119210.420.47

Hubbard took a redshirt season as a true freshman due to Oklahoma State’s depth at the running back position and with Justice Hill comfortably leading the way. But when he finally saw significant action later in the 2018 season Hubbard’s productive explosion began. From the Oklahoma game in November of 2018 to the end of the 2019 regular season Hubbard racked up 2,361 rushing yards in 16 games. He posted 13 100-yard games and four 200-yard games in that span, and of course led all of college football in rushing yards for the 2019 season.

Yes, his receiving production isn’t high in volume, but the backfield receiving market share was certainly there. Don’t overthink this. Hubbard’s production profile is beautiful.

How It Happened

If you’ve been following Oklahoma State football recently you’ll notice that they like to run the ball. And usually a huge chunk of the work goes to one lead back. The Cowboys also like to spread things out three and four wide all game long, which allows for space to run. So in a way, no one should be surprised Hubbard found success in such a favorable scheme. However, it’s one thing to see massive final season market share numbers. It’s another entirely to drop 2,100 yards from scrimmage and 21 touchdowns in just 12 games.

Comps and Draft Prospects

When you combine the power of Grinding the Mocks with our very own Box Score Scout to find some potential comps based on production, physical measurements, and draft capital here’s what you find:

The top comparisons aren’t exactly what you wants to see, but there are certainly some hits in this mix. Although, this may not be the best implied draft capital to use with Hubbard — many mock drafts don’t have him in at all due to the uncertainty surrounding his upcoming NFL decision. He could still return to Oklahoma State.

Plus, we don’t have his combine data yet. Once Hubbard runs around a 4.4 forty thanks to his legit track speed1 his comps and draft stock will rise. If we adjust the capital to project Hubbard around the round one and two turn player comps like Dalvin Cook and Donald Brown begin to emerge. The future could be bright if Hubbard sees some decent draft capital.

Why He Will Succeed

But even if Hubbard doesn’t get drafted super early, there’s still hope. Hubbard fits the mold for future success when looking a adjusted rushing and receiving market share, breakout age, projected draft age, and — most likely — physically (pending his combine).

On top of all that, he plays a lot like his best NFL comp, who played college football before the years included in our BSS database: Ahman Green. If you’re unfamiliar with Green, he’s currently 62nd on the all-time NFL yards from scrimmage leaderboard with 12,088 total yards. But let’s check out the similarities.

Green allegedly ran a 4.17-second 40-yard dash back in 1998. Hubbard’s track speed had him on an Olympic pace coming out of high school. They both play with the same decisive one-cut downhill style that allows them to create positive yardage quickly. But the similarities really stand out when you look at their final collegiate seasons of production.

PlayerGamesRush AttemptsRush YardsYPCRush TDsReceptionsReceiving YardsTotal Yds Adjusted Market Share
Chuba Hubbard1230919366.321211830.43
Ahman Green1227818776.822141050.39

Oh, and they both wear the number 30, so there’s that. But seriously, the good news is that Green wasn’t actually drafted until pick 76 and still found near Hall of Fame level success. If Hubbard profiles athletically like we think, he may just be the feature back that Green was, but in an era better suited for his sprinting and underrated receiving skill set.

Image Credit: David Flowers/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Chuba Hubbard.
  1. He ran a 10.55-second 100 meter in high school.  (back)
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